d. Where to Stay at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute

OVERVIEW: WHERE TO STAY AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

Where to Stay at Walt Disney World from yourfirstvisit.netStay in Disney’s Polynesian Resort  if you can afford it, or in a standard room at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort if you are on a tight budget.

(Note: Construction at the Polynesian may make it a bad choice for some; only 5 people can stay in one standard room at the Polynesian, and only 4 at Art of Animation. If your family is too large for a single room, see Large Families at Walt Disney World.)

If neither of these works for you, see Next Best Resort Choices.

STAY AT A WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT

You should stay at an official Walt Disney World resort hotel, as doing so gives you special privileges that your itinerary takes advantage of.

  • Most important is the ability to reserve FastPass+ 60 days ahead–everyone staying elsewhere except at the Swan or Dolphin gets only 30 days ahead to book their rides. This helps optimize your trip, and is crucial for a couple of high demand attractions–meeting Anna and Elsa, and the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
  • Disney hotel guests can book dining for the next ten days once 180 days from their arrival date rolls around–everyone else can just book 180 days ahead. This can be a key to getting high demand meals like dinner at Be Our Guest.
  • Disney’s Magical Express will bring you back and forth from the Orlando airport (MCO) for free–whihc can save hundreds on rental car fees or taxi costs.
  • Another is access to the Disney Dining Plan, which may save you some money if you eat where this site’s itineraries suggest you do, and you have kids younger than ten. (See How to Eat.)

CRITERIA FOR PICKING AMONG DISNEY RESORTS

This site selects from among the 25 or so  possible Walt Disney World resort hotels based on two criteria:

  1. Appeal to kids (for obvious reasons) and
  2. Transportation convenience, because of all the trips you will be making back and forth from your resort to the various parks, attractions and shows.

KID APPEAL

Lobby Disney's Wilderness Lodge from yourfirstvisit.netKid appeal is principally visual, and it means whether the look of a resort has features that speak to kids of whimsy, playfulness, and adventure, signaling that that this resort was designed for them! (And not necessarily for their parents…)

The resorts with kid appeal are, in order

  1. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  2. (Near-tie with #1) Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  3. Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  4. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  5. (Near tied)  Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and Disney’s All-Star MoviesAll-Star Sports,  and All Star Music  Resorts.

None of the other resorts has enduring, whimsical kid appeal. See this for more on kid appeal.

CONVENIENCE

Monorail From Polynesian from yourfirstvisit.netThese resorts noted above with kid appeal break into two categories.

  • The first 3 are classified by Walt Disney World as “Deluxe” resorts, and
  • The rest are classified by Disney as “Value” resorts

(See this for details on what you get in each resort category.)

Because the price difference between these categories is so high, separate hotels are recommended within each of the two categories. (Other categories exist, but are not recommended for first-time visitors–see Where Not to Stay for why.)

Within the kid-appealing Walt Disney World resorts, the tie breaker is transportation convenience, particularly to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot theme parks, as you will be making more trips to these parks than any others.

Of the three kid-appealing deluxe resorts, the Polynesian is far and away the most convenient.

  • It is one of only three resorts served by the resort monorail that directly connects to the Magic Kingdom, and the only one of the kid appealing resorts to do so
  • Is the only resort within easy walking distance of the Epcot monorail that directly serves Epcot, and
  • Is the only resort for which you can take the express monorail back from the Magic Kingdom, walking from where the monorail stops at the Transportation and Ticketing Center back to the hotel–and saving often 10 to 30 minutes.

Among the Walt Disney World value resorts with kid appeal–the All-Star Music, Movies and Sports Resorts, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and Disney’s Art of Animation ResortArt of Animation and Pop Century tie as convenience winners, but the choice is not so clear cut.

Collectively, transportation is slightly less convenient at the All-Stars than at Pop Century and at Art of Animation, principally because during slower periods many of the buses at All-Stars serve more than one of these resorts–often all three of the All-Star Resorts.

This bus sharing, when it happens, both slows down and makes more variable the All Star round-trip time to and from the parks, and tends to make the buses and bus stops more crowded than at Pop and Art of Animation, each of which has just one bus stop, not shared with any other resorts.

Total travel times, over your entire vacation, likely would be nearly equivalent, but the time spent in Pop Century and Art of Animation transit seems more productive, more predictable, and less frustrating.

See this for more on convenience.

MORE ON WHERE TO STAY AT DISNEY WORLD



227 comments

1 Bookings & Reservations » What is the best vacation club hotel in Disney World? { 02.07.10 at 2:12 am }

[…] If you mean is "what’s the best resort to stay in," then for a first-timer it’s the Polynesian. Great kid appeal, far and away the most convenient. See this page for where to stay at Walt Disney World: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-stay/ […]

2 Christophe Boulenger { 06.09.11 at 5:17 am }

Hello!
Me and my girlfriend (no kids) are currently planning our first 2012 Walt Disney World trip.
Being a huge Star Wars fan, we want to go during Star Wars weekends (end May/start of June).
Total period: 2 full weeks.

At the moment, there’s a very good offer at the UK website when booking a full package.
Including the admission tickets (buy for 7 days base tickets, get 14 days ultimate hoppers).
Also, free dining when booking a moderate or deluxe hotel.
When comparing prices, it wouldn’t be too much of a difference (about 50USD) between:
1) Old Key West Resort (studios), with the Disney Dining Plan (included)
2) Port Orléons Resort (standard room), with an upgrade from the Quick Service Dining to Disney Dining Plan.

Which one would be the more suitable for us, you think, because I cannot seem to find a “best for couples only”-hotel :P
Thanks!

3 Dave { 06.09.11 at 6:11 am }

Hi Christophe!

That’s a really nice deal.

I tend to Old Key West. The rooms are much larger, the overall feel is more luxurious, and the buildings are smaller, more separated, and more spread out, giving you more of a feel of being by yourself. It’s also a little more convenient to Downtown DIsney, fun for couples (Port Orleans is also conveient to this–just not as much.)

There are two resorts in three different themes at Port Orleans. The Port Orleans French Quarter resort has a very romantic overall look and feel to the whole resort–more so than OKW–but the rooms thenselves don’t measure up to those in OKW. The Magnolia Bend section of the other resort, Port Orleans Riverside, is also charming on the outside, but suffers in the same room comparison.

You can find links to reviews of all these in the middle of this page: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/04/10/more-on-where-to-stay-at-walt-disney-world/ but for that price difference I’d tend to Old Key West…

Hope this helps! Dave

4 Linda { 06.23.11 at 8:40 pm }

We only travel to Disney every few years so we do spend a little more. We have stayed at the pollen and really enjoyed it. This trip we have the opportunity to use someones Disney vacation points and decided to try the animal kingdom. We currently have 2 studios at the jambo house but are on a waiting list for a 2 bedroom at the village. (2 adults and 4 teens) Reading your review it sounds like the village is a long way from the dining. Is it far from the main pool?

5 Dave { 06.23.11 at 8:46 pm }

Hi Linda, yes it’s just as far from the main pool as it is from dining (other than its own table service). However, it has its own lovely pool that is as nice as at any other DVC resort and has some food to offer as well!! There’s photos of its pool in the review: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/01/31/review-kidani-village-at-disneys-animal-kingdom-villas/ but they don’t do it justice…it’s gorgeous

6 Chris { 07.07.11 at 10:48 am }

What are your thoughts on the new Art of Animation Resort. Obviously you have not had the opportunity to visit it but i thought you might have some insight to its loction and ammenities.

7 Dave { 07.07.11 at 11:54 am }

Hi Chris!

I have some thoughts on this page: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. (Note that I MADE UP the floorplans…I’m sure they’ll actually end up quite different…)

Regarding the six-person rooms, I think it’ll be a great option for large families looking for value pricing. I also think that many 4 person families willing to pay for a moderate resort will find one of its 6-person options a better overall value for money–much more space, more privacy, more flexibilty, the microwave, the two baths, etc.

For its 4 person rooms I’m not sure. My guess is I’ll end up putting it at the top of my value resort list, just because it will newer, fresher, and more advanced than Pop Century. But I won’t do that til I actually stay in one of these rooms!

8 Dennis { 10.01.11 at 9:23 am }

Thanks for the help before. Have another question. I read somewhere that if one calls the resort hotel, in my case the YC, about 7 to 10 days prior to arrival and ask for the “back office or something like that” that I could put in a request for the room we want. In this case, our package is Garden View Club level. This will be our 4th visit. We know the view we want and have had before. Is this possible?

9 Dave { 10.01.11 at 1:44 pm }

Yup. You just call the main hotel number (you can find them at the end of Allearsnet.com’s resort fact sheets–eg at the end of this page for the Yacht Club: http://allears.net/acc/faq_yc.htm

When you call, just say you want to make a room request and they will transfer you to the right person. Requests aren’t guaranteed, of course–I’ve gotten mine about half the time…

10 Doug { 10.01.11 at 7:07 pm }

Hi and thank you for your site!!
We are a family of 5, thinking of going to Disney May 14-23. Our kids ages are 12 to 19, and we may be possibly bringing one other child. We would like to know what you might suggest. Also do you think that Disney will offer the free meal plan during this time?
Thank you for your help.

11 Dave { 10.02.11 at 6:38 am }

Hi Doug! For where to stay for larger families, see the links that start here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/special-circumstances/special-circumstances-large-families/

Dunno if they’ll have a deal offered then…it depends on how their bookings are going. It’s a common time for deals, but no guarantees!

12 Kerri { 12.29.11 at 4:34 pm }

We’re really stuck. We have booked a villa from 17 Dec to 5 Jan 2012-13 and are looking to choose between the following options to book a hotel onsite for 2 adults and two kids (11 and 8 by then):
1 nt Christmas Ev + 1 nt New Year’s EVe
2 nts New years’s eve and previous night (30th)
We are stuck as to which is the better option; what is the reality behind New Year’s Eve and Christmas Day on site? Also, which hotel. At the moment we are favouring WL as it seems to have the level of comfort we are after with a convenient location accessible to both MK and Epcot. Please help!!

13 Dave { 12.30.11 at 7:41 am }

Hi Kerri, I have mixed feelings. You will be there long enough that you don’t need to be in the parks xmas day or NYE–and they are SO crowded why bother? Why not make these “off” days…Otherwise, pick between your options based on which days you think you really need access to the parks… Re the hotels, WL is a great choice–but not overly convenient to Epcot…

14 Craig { 01.06.12 at 5:23 pm }

Hi,

This site has been a gem in our planning for our first trip. Actually helped us delay plans a few weeks to a period that is less busy.

Here’s an odd question for you … do the value resorts permit you to bring in (and use) in your room something like a Koolatron (electric cooler that you can also plug into your van) or even a toaster oven? We’re arriving by van and figure this is a way to help us save on accomodation to spend more on the parks/perks.

Thanks!

15 Dave { 01.06.12 at 6:44 pm }

Hi Craig, glad it helped.

On your question, I’m not sure. Since you can rent a fridge for about ten bucks a night from Disney, they may fuss over the cooler…the toaster oven should be ok…worst case is they will tell you one or the other is a “fire hazard” and make you take it back to your van…

16 Julie { 01.13.12 at 3:49 pm }

Which hotels have private decks? My husband and I would like one so we can sit out there and relax after the kids fall asleep.

Thanks!

17 Dave { 01.13.12 at 4:06 pm }

Hi Julie, none of the moderate or value hotels have balconies.

All the deluxe and DVC hotels do, with the exception of some rooms at the Polynesian, and some rooms at the Beach Club. (The Beach Club rooms that are a problem all have balconies, but on some balconies there’s only enough room to stand.)

So if you go with the Poly or Beach Club, you need to request a “full balcony,” and Disney won’t guarantee that request…

18 mauricio { 01.16.12 at 9:01 pm }

I chose the week of March 1 to March 6, but I see are very full, is this a good time.
and if I want to stay with my family at disney villa outside which I recommend

19 Dave { 01.17.12 at 9:21 am }

Hi Maurcio. This is a good time. The Disney hotles are very full, because of three different deals that have been or being offered during this period, but the parks themselves are OK. There are no Disney villas outside of Disney world, but plenty of places available for rent. See http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/01/27/the-tightwads-guide-to-staying-off-site-at-walt-disney-world/

20 Danielle { 01.21.12 at 5:40 pm }

Hi Dave, I have asked questions before and also checked other sites…but always end up coming back here. This is my struggle…we are planning a trip for our family of 5 Aug. 27th-Sept 3rd. I originally thought to stay at the new AOA, but according to some chatting, IF free dining does come out for that time if year it probably will not include the AOA resort. Is that possible that it could exclude AOA? So now I am considering the Poly. I know you base your site for families with older kids, but I have an 8, 6 & 3 year old. Anything to help me decide would be great.

21 Dave { 01.21.12 at 6:47 pm }

Hi Danielle!! I had not thought about AofA being excluded…but it’s certainly plausible. The pre-tax room cost diffference between it and the Poly then is just about the same as you’d pay (or save) on the dining plan…not knowing your budget it’s hard for me to comment…lower-cost 5 person options likely to be eligible for free dining include All-Star Music family suites or a trundle-bed room at Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou. See http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/special-circumstances/special-circumstances-large-families/ and its links…

22 Scott { 01.25.12 at 4:45 pm }

Hi Dave: terrific website…thank you for the treasure-trove of information. Quick question: we are taking our 4, 6 and 8 year old sons to WDW for their first visit (5 days, 4 nights). We have priced rooms for 5, and the All-Star Music suites and the Port Orleans Riverside price approximately the same; the Poly is approx. $1000 more. A few quick questions: 1) Is one able to rent a room for 4 in another resort, such as the Pop Century, or does one have to stay in one of the rooms for 5? 2) given that we’ll be in parks most of the time, but knowing, too, that we’ll have some down time at the hotel on our arrival day and in the evenings, which of the resorts would you recommend? While we could afford the Poly, given the ages of our kids and our likely itinerary (i.e. parks, parks, parks), is the add’t $250/night worth it for the Poly and its ambiance & convenience? Thanks!

23 Dave { 01.25.12 at 4:59 pm }

Hi Scott, and thanks!

The “is it worth it” question is hard to answer for anyone else….for my wife, it is; for me, it’s not. The theoretical question is what’s the next best use of the $250 a nite… for me it’s another trip sooner…

Re 4 person rooms: you won’t get room keys, park tickets on the keys, the dining plan (if you are thinking about that), or linens for more than a room can officially hold–and you simply can’t fit a fifth person into one of the standard rooms in the values, as far as I’m concerned.

Between a family suite at Music and a trundle-bed room at Riverside (or a standard 4 person room at any moderate), I’d take Music in a heartbeat–the family suite space is much more livable, even if you aren’t in it much. See the floor plan for the family suites lower on this page: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/07/27/review-disneys-all-star-music-resort/

Hope this helps!

24 Sheena { 01.26.12 at 10:17 am }

Hi Dave,
I asked questions before and realized they were really silly after getting more familiar with your site. I was able to find the answers myself. Sorry about that! It’s our family’s first time going and I know we probably won’t go again for a while. So I want our trip to be memorable and I’m willing to pay for that but not pay too much… We are a family of 9 (4 adults, 5 kids) and I was looking at buying points from a DVC.
1. Would getting a villa at Animal Kingdom be a good idea (thru DVC?)
2. We plan to go the first week of June 2013. Is that a good time to go?
Thank you for your help and opinions!

25 Dave { 01.26.12 at 10:34 am }

Hi Sheena! Ask away, I don’t mind! And if you haven’t looked through this, you should: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/special-circumstances/special-circumstances-large-families/more-on-large-families-at-walt-disney-world/large-families-looking-for-value-pricing-at-walt-disney-world-continued/

On your specific questions, there’s two ways to access DVC resorts. One is just like reserving a regular room—you call or go online. For these you can also use discount programs–for a discount being offered for your week, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/11/30/new-walt-disney-world-discount-extending-into-june-2012/

The other way is to rent points from a DVC member. This is more complicated but often cheaper even than a discount. For how to, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/special-circumstances/special-circumstances-large-families/more-on-large-families-at-walt-disney-world/renting-dvc-points-at-walt-disney-world/

Almost always. and either way, the least expensive 9 person space available is at Disney’s Old Key West–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/01/17/review-disneys-old-key-west-resort/ AKL is a great choice, but more expensive, and not as spacious. There are two DVC options at AKL–Jambo House, and Kidani Village. Of these, Kidani Village is more livable for a family your size–see this http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/01/31/review-kidani-village-at-disneys-animal-kingdom-villas/

Finally, if you have to go in the summer, the first week of June is the best choice! See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/07/20/disney-world-crowds-in-2012-summer-2012-crowds/

Hope this helps and have a great trip!

26 Eva { 01.29.12 at 11:53 am }

since you are so incredibly helpful and this site ROCKS, I thought I would ask another question that has really been bugging me.
We are booked at POR and I just cant convince my husband (or myself really) to re-book at POP Century. We are truly worred that the rooms will dissapoint us, even though our kids would clearly love them. We are also looking forward to the boat ride to DTD, even though that seems like a small thing. I have used your site, and made a spreadsheet for our trip, and bc our stay is 6 days, 5 nights, I have budged very little time in our “resort” besides a rest in the afternoon.
Can you convince me to stay at POP and save some money, or do you think we should just stay at POR? Im not getting a discounted room there, bc I got a discounted dining plan – did the math, and save about $200 based on the places we WANT to eat and can since we have the dining plan.

27 Dave { 01.29.12 at 12:04 pm }

Hi Eva, just to be clear, you are worried that Pop will disappoint you, and are you saving $200 by being in POR than by being in Pop? Or do I have somehting backwards :)

28 Eva { 01.29.12 at 2:45 pm }

okay, so let me be more clear. We are staying at POR because we are afraid that my husband and I will be dissapointed with the rooms and amenities at POP. We are saving $200 by getting a free dining plan and forgoing other discounts that I could get on POR. Did the math, and with a discount on the room and tickets, we would only have about $490 to spend total on food (snacks and meals) to match the package price with POR (with no discounts) and free dining plan. We want to have the “dining experience” as well, so I went with the dining plan option. Staying at POP would be pure discount on what we are paying now, but I cant decide if its worth it.

29 Dave { 01.29.12 at 3:51 pm }

OK, I got you, and have a coupla thoughts.

One is whether you’ve considered a split stay. You could start at Pop, and then shift to POR later–two reservations, with dining plans for each… or you could even start at Pop and switch to the Wilderness Lodge for–typically–about the same cost as POR over the whole trip. For more see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-stay/next-best-resort-choices/where-not-to-stay/

On the other hand, if you go there thinking you’ll be disappointed by Pop, you will be. Its rooms are as small as you likely will ever stay in; the beds are only full-sized; compared to POR, dining is limited, the decoration is garish, and the pool not as good. It will, however, delight your kids…but they won’t mind POR one bit!

30 Eva { 01.29.12 at 5:18 pm }

again, great advice. Too short of a trip to split this time, but I will keep that in mind for our next trip. Thanks thanks thanks for the great advice!

31 Dave { 01.29.12 at 5:28 pm }

Eva, you are welcome! Have a great trip…and thanks for all your kind words about the site! Dave

32 kerm { 02.08.12 at 7:28 pm }

Been to WDW 55 times since 1971 traveling from the northwoods of WI. Considered a seasoned vet, but your site is so helpful, planning AofA in April 2013. Need a helper?

33 Dave { 02.09.12 at 6:12 am }

Hi Kerm, and thanks!

Hope your winter has been as good as mine (I live in Northeast Ohio.) Glad to hear your thoughts about AoA when you get back from there next year, and anything else you’d care to add or correct on the site–or any other thoughts you have.

Dave

34 Ann { 02.11.12 at 4:21 pm }

Hi Dave,
I’ve been to Disney many times and stayed at most of the accomidations. We have a DVC membership. Right now we are booked at the Animal Kingdom Kadini Villas and we are thinking of booking a trip on the Wanyama Safari tour. This is a pricey tour. Have you heard anything reliable about the cost ratio? Also, we stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge several years ago and the cleaning was horrible… is the villa better? (hopefully) Our other option is the Villas at the Wilderness Lodge, but they seem remote. (We have a car) Any advice? Our son is 10 years old and really doesn’t need any of the kid friendly appeal.

35 Dave { 02.11.12 at 4:43 pm }

Hi Ann! I have no opinion on the safari, nor the state of cleaning, sorry.

Wilderness Lodge is a great choice, but the villa rooms are smaller than those at Kidani… Given the size of your family this may not matter, and if you’ve never stayed at WL I would advise giving it a try…

See http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/01/31/review-kidani-village-at-disneys-animal-kingdom-villas/ and http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/02/07/review-the-villas-at-disneys-wilderness-lodge/ .

36 Bianca { 03.18.12 at 5:57 am }

Hi Dave,

Firstly thank you for this website it has been a huge help! Me and my partner are planning a trip for later this year. This will be our first time going and dont no where we should stay. We have no children and are 24years old. We are coming from New zealand so want to make the most of it. please help!! Thanks

37 Dave { 03.18.12 at 9:46 am }

Hi Bianca and thanks for the kind words!

It’s hard to advise without knowing your price range. But for couples your age the Epcot resorts are hard to beat, especially if you have park hopper tickets. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/02/16/the-epcot-resorts-at-walt-disney-world/

If the prcies of those are too high, let me know, and also let me know what you are looking for–most romantic, most silly, most convenient–and I’ll give you some more thoughts…

38 Erin { 04.04.12 at 11:36 pm }

Do you have any idea (or heard any rumors :) about whether discounts for rooms or dining will be available for stays in early December? Would they have already come out?

39 Dave { 04.05.12 at 6:35 am }

Hi again, Erin. All I know for sure is that Disney by policy is cutting back the number and scope of the discounts it’s offering…so no guarantees. Last year, Free Dining for the winter was announced in early August…

40 Kathy Strachan { 04.26.12 at 12:43 am }

Hi Dave,
What is the convenience factor for the Art of Animation Resort? Know it doesn’t have a gym for my 19 year old daughter but a good price for a family suite. Would probably spend most of our time at Magic Kingdom and Epcot as far as the 16 year daughter is concerned.
Thanks,
Kathy

41 Dave { 04.26.12 at 7:52 am }

Hi Kathy! A of A will be as convenient as Pop Century.

If the two end up sharing buses, then Pop (and AofA) will drop a little in the convenience rankings–see this http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-stay/next-best-resort-choices/picking-your-resort-based-on-convenience/resorts-ranked-by-convenience/

42 Julie { 05.01.12 at 3:51 pm }

Hi Dave,

Your site is amazing, thank you so much! My boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Disney for the winter of 2013 for 9 days, we have no kids and are pretty flexible with of when we go. I was thinking beginning of February based on your site with crowds and pricing, but I just looked at your Best Weeks of 2013 and it rates that time frame in the high 40’s, why is that? We were also thinking of staying at the Contemporary, what do you think price wise during that time frame and overall experience…we we’re thinking about using AAA for discounts? My first trip to Disney was this past winter for a girl’s weekend and I thought the Contemporary would be really cool to stay at because of the monorail and the view of the castle from the tower. Also is it difficult to get a tower room and would you recommend a floor? I also really want to to do one of the water parks, do you have a favorite, and will it be too cold?

I could ask you a 100 more questions (not that I already didn’t!!) but I’ll spare you…thank you so much for your time!

Julie

43 Dave { 05.02.12 at 6:33 am }

Hi Julie and thanks!

My week ratings are for first time visitors who may never return. They thus ding January and early February weeks because ride closures are common then. See http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/05/12/winter-ride-closures-at-walt-disney-world/

For returning visitors, those weeks are great–low crowd and low prices! Weather can be all over the place, tho, so I would not plan on a waterpark, but rather just do it on spur of the moment if it is warm. During those months, only one is open at a time, so you won’t have a choice–both have their fans, I have a slight preference for Blizzard Beach. For temps then, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-to-go/next-best-dates/weather-and-when-to-go/pool-days-november-through-february/

I think the Contemporary will be fun! Magic Kingdom view Tower rooms are easy to get then, and ask for the highest floor available.

44 Brenda Buzzell { 05.15.12 at 9:40 am }

I am trying to find the information that will tell me how to book a hotel stay at Port Orleans now since the disney site is not avaliable for 2013 reservations.
help

45 Dave { 05.15.12 at 1:15 pm }
46 Ronald Manosalvas { 06.11.12 at 11:36 pm }

What is your opinion about Disney art of animation resort?

47 Dave { 06.12.12 at 7:41 am }

Hey Ronald, I just published a review of it on Sunday–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/06/10/review-the-family-suites-at-disneys-art-of-animation-resort/

48 Sara { 06.20.12 at 2:36 pm }

Hi,

As far as convenience factor goes for being close to the transportation, which hotels do you recommend for a 5 year old and a 2 year old? Our budget for the hotel and tickets along with the dining plan is 2,000. Thank You.

49 Dave { 06.20.12 at 3:42 pm }

Sara, I rank the hotels in order based on convenience here http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-stay/next-best-resort-choices/picking-your-resort-based-on-convenience/resorts-ranked-by-convenience/ –the ranks are the same for the ages of your kids.

All of the most convenient hotels are expensive and are unlikely to fit your budget unless you are going on a very short trip. By thew way for kids that age a 2 or three day trip is fine, focused just ion the magic kingdom, as it has the most to offer for those age groups. Then you can come back when they are older and can appreciate the other rides and other parks.

See also this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/

50 Sara { 06.20.12 at 8:51 pm }

Thank You so much Dave! This website is really awesome! I left you some other questions and comments along these pages. I have been on this website all day :) I have wiggle room on the budget as close to 3000. The quotes I have done on the WDW website allowed for value resorts and a few moderate. I just didn’t know which one would be best in case of an emergency nap. This will be my husband and my first trip also! We will be driving our vehicle from Michigan. We are planning 5 nights.

51 Sara { 06.20.12 at 8:53 pm }

As for the budget, I would like to stay around 5,000 including the gas and souveneirs.

52 Dave { 06.21.12 at 7:13 am }
53 Amy { 07.10.12 at 11:07 am }

I have a question about transportation. Friends of mine will be at disney the same time as I am. They will be staying with family in Orlando. Will they be able to take the transportation buses from the parks to the hotel I am staying at to visit?

54 Dave { 07.10.12 at 12:08 pm }

Amy, yes–assuming you are staying at a WDW resort hotel…

55 Amy { 07.10.12 at 12:19 pm }

yes, I am. Thank you!

56 Dave { 07.10.12 at 12:52 pm }

Then you are set, Amy!

57 Paul { 07.24.12 at 8:09 pm }

OK you have got great information, I am going to disney in december and cant decide between the animal kingdom and the polynesian. I am taking a 3 year old and expect to be back in the room every 4 hours or so and need to take advantage of the extra magic hours. On the one hand I have stayed at the Polynesian beofre and lover the proximity to the magic kingdom and the monorail to epcot. However it seems that the busses are fairly frequent to all the parks from the animla kingdom and i have never stayed there before. Needless to say both trips are club level one over lookig the savanah the other the lagoon. What would you recomendations and input be?

58 Dave { 07.25.12 at 7:17 am }

Paul, in the circumstance you describe, I’d actually do the Contemporary– http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/06/06/review-disneys-contemporary-resort/ For an MK focused trip with room returns every 4 hours, AKL is a little inconvenient. The beauty of the Contemporary is that you can walk to and from MK if you choose….

59 Paul { 07.25.12 at 6:09 pm }

thanks Dave, sorry for all the spellling mistakes above. You would recommend the Contemporary over the Polynesian? I am lookinng at the Polynesian club lagoon view or the contemporary Magc Kingdom Atrium Club?

60 Dave { 07.27.12 at 8:07 am }

Hi Paul–yes, if you really intend to go back to the hotel every 4 hours, the Contemporary would be the choice as it is the most convenient hotel for the Magic Kingdom…

61 Dave { 07.27.12 at 3:13 pm }

Are all the rooms at the Port Orleans Riverside finished? Staying in November with a family of 5 and don’t want to be stuck with an old room with double beds and trundle. Also, can you call ahead to request these sort of things?

62 Dave { 07.27.12 at 3:25 pm }

Hi Dave–they will be by then, see this: http://portorleans.org/rehab.php And yes, you can call ahead!

63 lauren { 09.28.12 at 8:19 am }

Which is the best upscale hotel for a first but not last time visiting family of 4 who will focus on MK (2 days), Epcot (2 days) and AK (1 day)….with KING bed for the adults? Kids could share a queen pullout if necessary. We want convenience to the parks (will not rent a car) and I see the Polynesian does not have Kings and we are tall! (I asked a similar question somewhere else as a first time user and I can’t find it now to see your response…sorry!)

64 Dave { 09.28.12 at 10:16 am }

Lauren–there’s no kings anywhere that also have a second bed except for suites and DVC villas. You sure you want to pay that much more for a king? If so, I’ll give you some recommendations…

65 lauren { 09.28.12 at 11:49 am }

Not even Kings w/just a queen sleep sofa pullout? Ugh, I was afraid you’d say it would be that much more…I have some medical issues and really need my own space if I expect to sleep. Would much appreciate your recommendations and I’ll price them out and see if we can swing it. Thank you!

66 Dave { 09.28.12 at 12:28 pm }


Hey Lauren, for a king+ another bed, the least expensive option is a DVC one-bedroom villa.

See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/special-circumstances/special-circumstances-large-families/more-on-large-families-at-walt-disney-world/the-disney-vacation-club-dvc-resorts-at-walt-disney-world/

For most convenient to Epcot or MK, pick WL villas, BLT, BoardWalk villas, or Beach Club villas. The image is a floor plan of one bedroom villa at the Wilderness Lodge

For prices, see this: http://www.mousesavers.com/2013-walt-disney-world-resort-room-rates-season-dates/

67 Robert { 10.08.12 at 10:34 am }

Hi Dave, First just wanted to thank you for the awesome site. My wife and I have been to Disney a few times growing up and once before we had any kids, but it has been about 7 years since we last visited. We are planning a trip during the week of April 27th with our daughter who will be turning 3 the week after the trip (yes we conveniently planned to visit before she turned 3 to save some money). This will not be our only trip, just wanted to take our first born to enjoy it with her before having our second. We are unable to afford the Polynesian resort so we have decided to go with Art of Animation. I was wondering if the week we have chosen usually has offers for the free meal plan? Is this something we should ask them when we call to book our room?

Another question, does the Art hotel have standard rooms that join together? We may have grandparents come for a couple nights and would consider getting joining rooms if that is an option.

Thanks in advance for the help!

68 Dave { 10.08.12 at 12:03 pm }

Hi Robert and thanks!

Deals for those dates are possible, and have been common in past years. I wouldn’t expect such a deal to be announced for months. There are connecting rooms in the Little Mermaid section of A of A, which are the small, 4 person rooms. You can request connecting rooms, but WDW won’t guarantee them…

69 Robert { 10.08.12 at 1:48 pm }

Hi Dave,

Thanks for answering my initial questions. You mentioned that you wouldn’t expect Disney to announce a meal plan offer for at least a couple months. Would you suggest waiting for several months to book our rooms (the 180 day mark would be October 22nd for our week). Just trying to figure out the best plan of action.

70 Dave { 10.08.12 at 5:43 pm }

Hey Robert, you can make all your reservations now and later convert them to the deal, if it emerges…

71 JIm { 10.08.12 at 11:12 pm }

What do you think about renting a house for the week instead of HOtel?

72 Dave { 10.09.12 at 6:52 am }
73 MaryEllen { 11.05.12 at 6:25 pm }

Between Pop Century and All Star Sports, which hotel would you suggest (23/24 yr old couple, no kids)? We will be staying 3/1-3/8 of 2013. I’ve been two times as a kid, but my wife has never been. While it’s not an ideal time based on your suggestions, it is the best for our school and work schedules.
Do you have any suggestions to make the trip memorable for her and us? It is also our 1 year wedding anniversary while there, so we’ll be celebrating that as well.
Also wondering if you have any insight or tips for vegetarian/vegan dining while at Disneyworld?

Thanks in advance!

74 Dave { 11.06.12 at 8:54 am }

Hiya MaryEllen!

First on the vegan/vegetarian question, see the links at the bottom of this page: http://allears.net/din/special.htm

For a couple among the values I would not champion either of those, but rather All-Star Music. See these three pages (the first two are on why I say that the third, a review):

http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/06/26/the-most-romantic-walt-disney-world-resorts/
http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/08/24/personal-favorites-the-value-resorts/
http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/07/27/review-disneys-all-star-music-resort/

if it has to be between the two you note, I’d pick Pop

For special celebrations…there’s either dining or fireworks–e.g. Wishes…

75 Jackie { 11.06.12 at 10:06 pm }

Hi…I am planning to return to Disney this year with my two boys ages 16 & 20 what resort do you recommend for us to stay at. The last two times we stayed at the Caribbean beach,nice but
I want to stay somewhere new. We also like to visit downtown Disney. Being that my boys are older what do you recommend? (I also stayed at the port Orleans and do not want to go back there) maybe the beach club or the Saratoga Springs? or any others?
Thanks for any advice

76 Dave { 11.07.12 at 7:32 am }

Hi Jackie! My recommendations are in order on this page, but they are for first time visitors. For you, take a look at some of my “personal favorites” posts which you can find starting here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/category/x-personal-favorites/

77 Ewan { 11.12.12 at 8:56 am }

Hi, firstly, great site; wow.
My query is deciding between your two recommended resorts. For my stay dates next summer, given that the Poly comes with free Disney Dining, it actually comes out cheaper than a family suite at the ArtofA. I really like the kid appealness of the AoA, but am I mad to pay more for a Value resort than a Deluxe?! The comparison is a little skewed as I’m comparing a much bigger family suite at AoA against a std room at the Poly (which will be a bit crammed with 2 kids 6y and 9y).

78 Dave { 11.12.12 at 9:37 am }

Thanks, Ewan! I’m assuming you are coming from the UK–and that’s how you got the free dining. That’s a tough call…and something I’ve thought about writing about…In matters like this, I like the cowards way out–which is a split stay. Book the first half of your visit in the Poly, and the second half in an AofA family suite. That way you get the best of both worlds. BTW, Poly is quite spacious–just not in the way AofA is…

79 Suzie { 11.25.12 at 8:54 am }

Hi Dave, I posted once before with questions about where to stay, and I’m leaning toward AOA based on your recommendation. What I didn’t mention was that we have 50 DVC points (a wedding gift), that I’m now thinking about using for this stay. At first, I didn’t want to move hotels, and our points only will buy use 1-2 nights of a 5 night trip. But now I’m thinking two nights at Animal Kingdom Villas, and 3 nights at AOA. If we are going to do 2 nights at a DVC resort with a 4 1/2 and 3 yr old, is this the one you would pick? Would you do those two nights at the beginning of the trip or the end? Also, does Disney make switching hotels relatively painless? I just don’t want to waste 1/2 day moving hotels. Thanks! Suzie

80 Dave { 11.25.12 at 1:40 pm }

Hi Suzie, with kids that age, AKL may be too subtle, so for your DVC days I’d advise Bay Lake Tower–the proximity to MK is hard to beat (it’s a 5-10 minute walk!) See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/09/13/review-bay-lake-tower-at-disneys-contemporary-resort/

If you do go to BLT, time your nights there to your planned MK days. If those are not defined, then do it at the end of your trip.

Disney makes it “easy” to switch hotels in the sense that it leaves it entirely up to you! What you’d do is take a cab from one to the other, check in and get your new room keys, and drop your bags. You can ask for a text alert when your new room is available. You can then go to a park, and return when your room is available (or l;ater). Check out time is 11a, and at the DVC resorts, check-in time is 4p. They’ll give you your room earlier if they can, but you should plan to be busy between 11a and 4p!

81 paul andrews { 11.30.12 at 6:23 pm }

Hi David,
Let me start by saying your website is fantastic. A great wealth of information for us newbies who want to make the most of our visit. My family and I (me, wife, 6yr old, 7 yr old) are coming to WDW in September 2013 for 9 nights. I have recently been looking in to DVC rentals through David’s Vacation Club Point Rentals. He seems like a reputable dealer. Any opinions on this ? I’ve read in places that first timers should use the value resorts rather than at DVC as first timers probably aren’t in their rooms that much. But we figure if we can get a studio room through David’s Vacation Club Point Rentals for the same or similar price (which is what I have found through his website) then it would be better to do that. I’ve read your pages on the convenience of each resort and the pros and cons of each. Do you think it would be a good decision to stay through DVC for the same/similar price than a value resort even for first timers ? Are you ‘disadvantaged’ in any way by staying in a DVC villa as opposed to staying in the rooms of the resort ? That is, are you far removed from the amenities of the resorts ? The family like the idea of Animal Kingdom. I note you said it was isolated but this was off set somewhat by not sharing buses with other resorts. I guess we fit in to the category of doing it purely for the price advantage of staying at a deluxe resort which would otherwise be out of our price range. The overall price is almost the same as staying at a moderate resort booked through Disney wesbite so we think it’s worth it to stay at the DVC properties for the same price as a moderate proerty. Thanks so much for your time. There’s only a few hundred dollars between the prices for the studio rooms at the various DVC properties so if there was a ‘standout’ in your view we would definitely consider it. Kind regards…..The Andrews Family

82 Dave { 12.01.12 at 11:06 am }

Hi Paul, and thanks!

I am not one of those who says everyone should stay in a value–my key recommendation on where to stay is a deluxe–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-stay/ A studio at AKL Jambo or Kidani using rented points through David sounds like a great idea to me! Jambo would be much better than Kidani, if you can swing it…

83 suite or not at Art of Animation { 12.26.12 at 12:29 am }

Sorry to email again! We are now deciding between the Little Mermaid room and the suites – we have 3 families (largest is 2 adults and 2 kids). We could afford the suites, but we wonder if it will be worth the $120 more a night per room. We can think of other ways to spend that money – character events and such. Having been there – what do you think of the suites? Worth the extra $$$??

Thanks and have a great day,

Wendy

84 Dave { 12.26.12 at 8:30 am }

Hi Wendy, that’s a tough choice for an outsider to advise on…especially since for the cost of 3 suites you could get a two-bedroom DVC villa (sleeping nine over the age of 3) with money left over, and score a full kitchen as well. Can you tell me the numbers in the three families and the ages of the respective kids kids?

85 suite or not at Art of Animation { 12.27.12 at 1:46 am }

We have 4 kids – 5, 6, 8, and 11 – and 6 adults. There is a senior pair of adults, and two families of 4. The two oldest kids are mine and are very Disneyland savvy – but all will be new to WDW.

86 Dave { 12.27.12 at 9:30 am }

OK the villas won’t work with that group size and structure. If you can afford it, Art of Animation suites are still a great answer, as would be 3 standard 4 person rooms at Wilderness Lodge (a little more expensive, much less space, but a more glorious setting–see http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/08/25/review-disneys-wilderness-lodge/ )

Another family suite option that’s less expensive than AofA (typically by $50/night) is All-Star Music. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/09/05/review-the-family-suites-disneys-all-star-music-resort/ Overall Music suffers in comparison to AofA, but it does have some strengths

The 4 person standard rooms at Little Mermaid are tiny and have full size beds, rather than queens, but are the best choice simply from a cost point of view…

87 suite or not at Art of Animation { 12.27.12 at 5:09 pm }

Great info – thanks! Now, we just need to decide!

Have a great day,

Wendy

88 Dave { 12.27.12 at 5:49 pm }

Wendy let me know what you decide on!

89 suite or not at Art of Animation { 12.27.12 at 8:17 pm }

Well, we just booked the Little Mermaid rooms at AofA. We will be looking for specials and such – but think they will be few and far between during Thanksgiving. My in-laws own a home in Florida – may see some discounts with that later. I am sure I will email again – you are wonderfully helpful and have already helped a bunch!

Thanks,

Wendy

90 Dave { 12.28.12 at 7:29 am }

Sounds good Wendy, and keep the questions coming!

91 Ginette { 01.02.13 at 9:59 am }

Hi Dave:

What are your views on the pros and cons of on-line check in? We are staying at the POR in a Royal Room, River view for 9 nights Feb 22-March 3. First time disney goers and will be arriving at the Resort around noon.

92 Dave { 01.02.13 at 5:34 pm }

Hi Ginette! Honestly, I can’t think of any cons–I’ve used it probably 20 times since it became available and I LOVE it! It saves 5-10 minutes of time per person served, which means the check-in desk processes the mobs much more quickly…Is there something about it that worries you??

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93 Ginette { 01.02.13 at 6:06 pm }

I had the same views as you but I’m probably reading to much on the Internet. Some say if you want a good room you should not do online check in. Others say that if it’s your first time, you shouldn’t do on line checking . I also read that if you are to arrive prior to check in that you have more chance of having your room ready. We are arriving around noon so I may go ahead and do the online check in. Thanks. I look up your site regularly to see if you’ve added new stuff. :)

94 Dave { 01.03.13 at 7:05 am }

Hi Ginette!

I’m not gonna say that those other opinions are totally wrong–I can imagine why some would draw those conclusions.

But the fundamental difference is that your paper is all pre-assembled rather than gathered piece by piece. Your room, which may be pre-assigned in both apporaches, is still changeable, and upgrades are still request-able. Just 3 weeks ago my family got upgraded from a one bedroom to a two bedroom villa at OKW!

So let me know how things went for you yesterday and if based on your experience you’d recommend on-line check in or not…

95 Khay { 01.14.13 at 11:43 am }

We will be staying in a standard room in the Little Mermaid Resort this Feb.
Am I correct that there is a mini frig, but no facilities for coffee/ tea making or microwave?
Thanks so much.

96 Dave { 01.14.13 at 12:02 pm }
97 Christine { 01.30.13 at 11:27 am }

Hi Dave,
Thank you for providing such wonderful insight on everything. My boyfriend and I(no kids) are thinking about going to Disney World from 12/26-12/30. He is in the US Navy and we do realize these will be the “blackout dates”. Right now we are looking at the Beach Club/Port Orleans Resorts. Do you know if there is ANY type of military discount we can get during these days? Or do you suggest any other place? We would like to stay in a Disney Resort hotel because of all the wonderful perks(I stayed in Boardwalk Inn last Spring with my friends) but any dollar saved would be helpful! :) Thanks!

98 Dave { 01.31.13 at 6:56 am }

Hi Christine, and thanks!

Since that’s the most crowded week of the year, no discounts are offered, and hotel prices skyrocket to 50-90% higher than at other times of the year… (See http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/09/04/walt-disney-world-2013-price-seasons/ ) DO you really have to go then–to pay 50% more to stand in 2 hour lines?

If you must go then, the value resorts are cheaper than POR/Beach Club. For couples, among the values I recommend All Star Music. See http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/07/27/review-disneys-all-star-music-resort/

He’s eligible for Shades of Green, which will be even less expensive than a value resort, and has much nicer rooms. See http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/02/22/review-shades-of-green-resort-at-walt-disney-world/ At Shades you do get Extra Magic Hours but not the other Disney perks…

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99 Albert { 02.07.13 at 7:52 am }

Hi there. Thanks for having this site. Very helpful! I plan on being at Disney on April 25th for 1 week. It will be two adults and two children(9 and 2). We would like to stay at the Art of Animation but we are in between a Nemo and Cars Room. My youngest likes both Nemo and Cars. What do you suggest? We might also be renting a car during the middle of our stay. Thanks!

100 Dave { 02.07.13 at 7:56 am }

Hi Albert and thanks! The Nemo rooms are closer to the main pool and bus stops and dining. But they can also be–partly because of that–noisy, especially the first floor rooms. So it depends on how you trade off a little more convenience vs. the possibility of noise…

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101 Jennifer M { 02.27.13 at 3:48 pm }

Hi Dave! I have checked the prices for the All Star Music against the Art of Animation. Do you know why they wouldn’t be the exact same price? ASMu is $4200 (10 days) and AoA is $4700. In your opinion, which one would be better? I’m pricing out the family suites. There will be three adults and two children in our room. Also, the rest of our party will be booking standard rooms at the same resort. Would we all end up in the same building for ASMu?

102 Dave { 02.27.13 at 4:04 pm }

Hi Jennifer!

The short version is because people are willing to pay more for AofA. There are real differences, but AofA is not the better of the two for every single family. See this for more on the differences: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/09/05/review-the-family-suites-disneys-all-star-music-resort/

Disney will try to put you in the same building at ASM, but won’t guarantee it…

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103 Jennifer M { 02.27.13 at 4:15 pm }

Thanks Dave! If it were you, which one would you pick? I read that the ASM is slightly bigger as it has exterior doors, and it has a better sleeping arrangement.

104 Dave { 02.27.13 at 5:06 pm }

Jennifer, it really depends on the family, which is why I have the details in the link, but for most–but not all–AofA is better.

105 Saira { 03.13.13 at 3:36 am }

Hi Dave, great site.. we are planning our first trip to Disney this July 2013. We are booking a standard Room in Polynesian for 4 nights. We are a family of 5 – three boys aged 9, 7 and 1. Whcih longhouse would you recommend? I would like to request the hotel for a room with a nice view. I like the Tahiti, but saw that it will be renovated in 14-Jul-2013. We would be there first week of July, do you think its ok to stay in Tahiti? What do you recommend?

106 Dave { 03.13.13 at 6:43 am }

Hi Saira! Tahiti really is the best combination of views, room size, balcony possibilities, and convenience, particularly if your trip has some Epcot elements. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/05/19/review-disneys-polynesian-resort/ But if you can’t get in, then you’ll have to sort out what matters more. The link helps a bit with that, but if views really are your thing, and if you can’t get into Tahiti, then Hawaii is your next best choice…

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107 Saira { 03.13.13 at 6:47 am }

Dave, thank you for the very quick response. I will go through the link.

108 Mike { 03.20.13 at 6:29 am }

Hello Dave, we understand that the Grand Floridian is one of a few hotels that has a photographer you can hire to take a family portrait at the hotel. The million dollar question is how much does this cost or is there a site we can look up prices and services. Thank You

109 Dave { 03.20.13 at 6:54 am }

Mike, I dunno about the GF photographer, but for scheduling family portraits in all kinds of places see this: http://www.disneyeventphotography.com/portraits/

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110 Mike { 03.20.13 at 11:39 am }

Thank you Dave, looked at the site and 150 bucks for 20 min. Is a little much. We will use another tourist. That you again

111 Dave { 03.20.13 at 2:16 pm }

Mike, if I’m around, I’ll take your photos for only $90!

112 Mike { 03.20.13 at 4:46 pm }

Now that’s a deal

113 Dave { 03.20.13 at 5:04 pm }

Mike you have proved once again how smart the site’s readers are…

114 Wendy { 03.20.13 at 10:33 pm }

Pictures are a big part of every trip for us. At Disneyland, a place we frequent, we always have the staff photographers take pictures of us with their camera and ours when we see them in the parks. In the end, we can buy a picture from Disney, but most of the time, the ones they take with our camera are as good.

Not sure if this is a service at Disney World…but was always walk away with a few great group shots from Disneyland. We usually buy at least three and the rest are from our camera.

Again, do not know if this can be done at Disney World, too…but I sure hope so!

115 Mike { 03.21.13 at 5:54 am }

WDW has the photographers in the parks but we were looking for someone to take professional pictures at the GF where we will be staying. Never seen WDW photographers around the hotel outside of the weddings taking place. I will grab someone to take a few for us because 150 dollars for 20 min. or 350 dollars a hour is too much. Thanks Wendy but we will work something out. Dave is only 90 bucks so he is the best deal so far.

116 Tanja { 03.25.13 at 10:57 pm }

Hello,

Thank you for your in-depth website and Facebook page! We are a family of three (our son is 3 years old) planning a trip to WDW in July or August 2013 – our only option. We are having a hard time deciding which resort to book:

1. Poly – standard room

2. AK – Savannah view

3. The new Animation resort – family suite

4. The new Animation resort – TWO standard rooms with connecting doors.

I’m worried the standard rooms at the Animation resort are so small we may go stir crazy. We can’t stay outside all day because our son still naps in the afternoon; plus the heat and humidity will get to us.

Your advice and/or suggestions is appreciated.

Thank you

117 Dave { 03.26.13 at 7:52 am }

Hi Tanja and thanks!!

I’d rule out the fourth option as the third option is much better than it, and think any one of the first three would be great. The first two are much nicer and have much better dining, but AofA will make nap-time much easier.

You’ve likely already seen this, but detailed reviews of each are available from the links here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/04/26/walt-disney-world-resort-hotel-reviews/

118 Michael H { 03.27.13 at 2:15 pm }

Hi Dave!

My fiancee and I have both been to WDW when we were in our teens. I wonder where is the best place for two adults on their honeymoon. We are going to go back when we have kid(s) so we may want to do the Polynesian then. We are looking for a resort with a king bed and convenient location – any thoughts? We are doing the quick dining option, if that changes anything.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Michael

119 Michael H { 03.27.13 at 2:46 pm }

I just spoke with Disney and they mentioned these 4 resorts for being able to GUARANTEE a KING bed: Port Orleans – 1) Riverside or 2)French Quarter, 3) Carribean Beach; 4) Conorado Springs. So I will have to check out the reviews on those! They also mentioned to check out the California Grill for the late night view, since we are on honeymoon so I may go with the Dining plan.

120 Michael Halgren { 03.27.13 at 4:44 pm }

Okay after reading your amazing reviews looks like I am ready to book a package – the main question now is – I don’t get a travel agent involved if I look at renting someone’s DVC points, right? Michael.

121 Dave { 03.27.13 at 5:25 pm }

Hi Michael–answering all three of your questions at once:

1. See this for the most romantic WDW resorts by price class: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/06/26/the-most-romantic-walt-disney-world-resorts/
2. The names she gave you are all moderate resorts–as noted in the link above, French Quarter is the most romantic of these. But for a honeymoon, there’s a lot to be said for Coronado Springs among the moderates–e.g. real room service, a spa, a nicer/more fun bar…
3. Renting points is a private transaction, so there’s no travel agent commission…so no travel agent! BTW I’m sure you already know this, but you can only rent points for DVC resorts…not for the moderates–and only the one bedroom villas (and larger) have kings in the DVC resorts…

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122 Michael H { 03.27.13 at 10:43 pm }

I did not know that about the DVC points. Thank you! And thanks for the advice on Conorado, we’re already mind set with the French quarters :-) all that is left is be ready to book at some restaurant that don’t ooze kid appeal , at the 180 day mark. I know you have said this somewhere on the site, but is it better to book the package or hotel only if there is a future discount (cancellation and re-book)? Thanks a bunch!

123 Dave { 03.28.13 at 7:50 am }

Heya Michael good call on POFQ! Because of the arcana of Florida laws about the treatment of lodging taxes, it’s much easier for Disney to transfer a package reservation into a deal than a room only reservation.

I do have to note, though, that POFQ is often left out of deals (it’s not in the current one, for example), as Disney doesn’t have a lot of trouble filling it at regular rates…

For restaurant thoughts, see the graphic here, lower right cell: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-eat/dining-alternatives/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-dining/

124 Al { 03.28.13 at 2:35 pm }

Are there any tips you can give to improve the chances of a free upgrade to club levels at the resorts?

125 Dave { 03.29.13 at 7:07 am }

Hey Al, sorry, I’ve got nothing to offer….

126 Ron { 04.01.13 at 12:51 pm }

Dave – Great site. REALLY helpful. Wife & I are recent young retirees & are planning a romantic visit the week of April 21st. No kids, no Grandkids (next time). Staying at Port Orleans but I didn’t book Dining Plan. Wife & I are not fussy & willing to eat a nice dinner or two in town if necessary. Did I screw up big time by not getting the Dining Plan? Many thanks

127 Dave { 04.02.13 at 6:48 am }

Hi Ron, and thanks!!

Te dining plan doesn’t matter, but you do need to make reservations now, or you may find that every place you want to eat is booked! (You don’t need the dining plan to make reservations) See this for ideas on a few choices to make–look at the lower right side: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-eat/dining-alternatives/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-dining/

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128 Kristi { 04.04.13 at 5:12 pm }

So you helped me figure out what time to go can you help with resort decision? LOL. We stayed at the Poly this year and are considering the Contemporary for next year…with our kids being 18 months, 5 and 6 at trip time, which would you recommend? they loved seeing the castle from the pool and that keeps drawing me back! but it will be a shorter stay so I am wondering if now is our chance to try Contemporary?! torn on what to do

129 Dave { 04.04.13 at 7:04 pm }

Hey Kristi, if you can afford a Magic Kingdom view room, then the Contemporary would be a great choice for you. I’m a big fan of doing something different. The ages of your kids means that the ability to walk back and forth from MK is a great boon. The built environment is pretty bland, but the initial impression with the monrial zooming through is great, and they’ll likely forget all about the blandness once the see the view.

If the MK view price is too much, then the next bets choice is the Wilderness Lodge–though with the crib, the room will be a little cramped. The theming, though, is jaw-dropping! See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/08/25/review-disneys-wilderness-lodge/

130 kristi { 04.04.13 at 9:17 pm }

thanks. I have looked at the wilderness lodge and it doesn’t have any appeal to our family. If we dont want to splurge on theme park view would u recommend poly again over garden wing room or bay lake view room?

131 Dave { 04.05.13 at 6:53 am }

Kristi, if you just want to do something different, then garden rooms or Bay Lake views would be fine!

132 kristi { 04.05.13 at 7:53 am }

Thanks! My plan is to try to save for theme park view!!

133 Dave { 04.05.13 at 10:05 am }

Great, Kristi!

134 Katherine Chadrick { 04.06.13 at 4:00 pm }

Help! Big decision no time. LOL. Last minute decision to change to a moderate hotel. 2 adults, daughter and myself. Plan on being in parks almost All the time. New Orleans riverside or Caribbean? I keep seeing on line Caribbean has some musty smells issues in many room and new Orleans riverside looks amazing…but tempted by the tropical feel of Caribbean and the pirate pool. Does one resort really outweigh the other in quality or convenience? Thank You!!!

135 Dave { 04.06.13 at 5:54 pm }

Katherine, the single biggest difference between the two from the point of view of adults–that is, you–is that POR has queen beds and CB has full beds. If that doesn’t matter, then pick between the two based on theme–but do see this for a slightly different look at the moderates rankings first! http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/03/28/the-moderates-remix/

136 Katherine Chadrick { 04.07.13 at 11:24 am }

Thanks Dave! By the time I called them back (An hour later) the same options were gone and the prices on the changes had went up. I ended up saving money though by changing to pop century. I’ve seen on here that pop century has its own buses and it really is all about the parks to us so I think this will be fine. Interesting enough…I booked my stay when they were having a special and although the special has ended they are still honoring it when I make changes to my existing reservations. Very Cool of them. Now if you can wave a magic wand and get us In for a Be our guest dinner (not lunch :) ) you’ll truly walk on water. LOL. Any tips on that one? Thank you so much for all your help.

137 Dave { 04.07.13 at 1:16 pm }

You’ll be fine at Pop! Little beds and a teeny room…but as you say you won’t be there much.

All I can say on BOG is check every day–some people may have to cancel their ressies…

Good luck have fun and come back and let me know how it went!

138 kristi { 04.08.13 at 8:10 am }

So we have decided to splurge on theme park view at the contemporary resort! Will we enjoy it as much as the poly?? any room requests I should ask for??

139 Dave { 04.08.13 at 11:43 am }

Great, Kristi! Re room requests, ask for as high as possible. This will both give you a better view and isolate you from some of the noise in the interior concourse at the lower level…

140 Brian { 04.10.13 at 4:28 pm }

Hi Dave. My family is looking at a Disney trip in December, but when I went to a travel agency, they told me to come back in late June/early July as Disney will release specials and discounts around this time.
Does this sound about right to you?

Would love to book Polly but the cost seems so prohibitive. I have twin 5 ur olds and am looking at a suite at A of A.

141 Dave { 04.11.13 at 10:04 am }

Brian, frankly it doesn’t. (I’m assuming ytour arrival dates are before 12-18 or so, as Disney does not discount at all the unimaginably crowded Christmas week or New Years week.)

First, to start with Disney’s recent discount release calendar is not a reliable guide as its been all about coming out of the recession, so past behavior doesn’t necessarily predict future behavior.

Second, last year Disney released free dining for December in mid-July ( a deal I do not expect it to repeat) and room rate discounts at the end of August…

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142 Brian { 04.13.13 at 1:31 pm }

Yes, I am looking at early December.

So do you think I should wait till August to see if discounts appear or should I book now?

And if I wait, should I prebook the character dinners now, or 180 days out?

143 Dave { 04.14.13 at 9:16 am }

Hey Brian, you can’t book the meals til 180 days before your arrival date, which’ll be in early June.

If you book a package now, you can later convert it to the deal if one comes out that you are eligible for.

Cancellation penalties will kick in 45 days befroe your arrival, so you should have plenty of time to re-book if a deal comes out, or if you turn out to not be eligible because of arrival date or hotel, to cancel your current reservation and make a new one..

144 Sara M { 04.21.13 at 2:49 pm }

We want to go in October based on your recommendations. Which days are the least expensive and does it matter what day we arrive on? Is the weekday cheaper?

145 Sara M { 04.21.13 at 2:50 pm }

Thinking of staying October 16 through the 19 or 20th.

Thanks again!

146 Dave { 04.22.13 at 8:16 am }

Hi Sara, it’s very common for the hotels to charge more on Fridays and Saturdays than the rest of the week. So you want to have as few of those as you can! There’s also an up-charge for the Columbus Day weekend–the 11th, 12th and 13th.

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147 Jessica { 05.05.13 at 10:03 pm }

I love your site! I’d love your opinion on resort choice — I am currently torn between the Polynesian and Wilderness Lodge for November 2013. My kids are 5 and 3. I love the proximity of the Polynesian to the Magic Kingdom and the Monorail (Contemporary appears to be completely booked during our trip, so I had to cross that off the list). However, it is one of the priciest resorts. The Wilderness Lodge looks beautiful, but I’ve heard the transportation can be a little inconsistent and the boat ride can take awhile. I want this trip to be as meltdown-free as possible, which I think the Polynesian would allow for, but it is hard to get over the price. My kids will likely need to return to the room for naps. Should I just deal with the higher pricing at the Polynesian (and keep my fingers crossed for a discount then) or opt for the Wilderness Lodge?

148 Dave { 05.06.13 at 12:26 pm }

Jessica, for a Magic-Kingdom focused trip, the Wilderness Lodge will be just great. The boats take about ten minutes and run every 10 to 20 minutes… Where the Poly shines is on access to both MK and Epcot. WL is wonderful for little kids, especially little boys…

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149 Rhonda { 05.12.13 at 11:15 am }

I’m already booked to stay at the Little Mermaid aoa we arrive LATE 10:30 p.m. on 12/6/2013 to 12 /14/2013 – leave the resort at 3:00 p.m. I booked this resort due to the fact it does not share a bus to the parks with any other resort and kid friendliness. We have a 4 almost 5 yr old boy. I’m hoping for a free dining plan to come up for the dates of our stay – which would mean we would be able to get a better room for what we are paying for the Little Mermaid we could go to a Cars suite for more money than what we are pay for the Little Mermaid – WHICH I WOULD RATHER NOT GO OVER THAT AMOUNT but would like a better room. So my questions are. I have done some comparisons with the free dining that they just offered in September and the Caribbean Moderate and The French Quarter are very good price saving deals and I need to know about their convenience and kid friendliness and COST
1.) Is the Caribbean moderate resort (pirtate room) a good alternate? kid friendly
2.) Does the buses for this resort share with other resorts? If so how much inconvenience is this?
3.) What about The French Quarter resort – DOES THIS RESORT SHARE BUSES? If so how much inconvenience is this?

Thanks for your help!!

150 Rhonda { 05.12.13 at 7:27 pm }

Also, Dave – have you heard anything re: free dining OR 30% of rooms for the dates of 12/6/2013 thru 12/14/2013.
Thanks for all of your help!!!!

151 Dave { 05.13.13 at 7:55 am }

Rhonda, all this is covered in the reviews of those resorts, linked to above!

152 Dave { 05.13.13 at 7:58 am }

Rhonda, there’s no deals out beyond September. If a December deal comes out, it may well exclude that week, since it’s Pop Warner week. Finally, my bet is that the September deal will be the only free dining we’ll see in 2013–for why, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/05/08/mymagic-and-free-dining-in-2013-inferences-from-the-q2-disney-earnings-call/

153 Rhonda { 05.13.13 at 3:40 pm }

So with it being Pop Warner week – does this mean it is going to be crazy at the parks and at the value resorts? I thought this was one of the best weeks to visit for crowds and cost? I know nothing about Pop Warner week – but it does not sound good :)

154 Dave { 05.14.13 at 7:42 am }

Rhonda Pop Warner week has little effect on the parks, but does crowds some of the hotels. See this for more: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/05/30/pop-warner-week-at-walt-disney-world/

155 Danielle { 05.14.13 at 1:24 pm }

I have a couple of questions? I can not decide where to stay I am going in June. I booked the first 2 nights at the Yacht club and the last 3 nights at the Coronado Springs. I am going on my anniversary and also taking my 2 kids and celebrating there birthdays. I am unsure if I should stay at these hotels. Also, what hotels are generous about upgrading the room for anniversary. What place should we eat at for there birthday? My kids are 14 & 16.

156 Dave { 05.15.13 at 6:44 am }
157 Jennifer M { 05.16.13 at 11:20 am }

Hi Dave! We are wanting to book our trip with a travel agent here in the town we live in. (We are in Canada) and she has told us we cannot book the hotel until June or July. We are looking at Feb 28/2014 – Mar 9/2014. Do you know when we can begin booking hotel reservations for those dates? I know the 180 days before for the trip is around september 1st, and that is for the dinner reservations. I would just like to get the ball rolling on this vacay. thanks!!

158 Dave { 05.17.13 at 9:32 am }

Hi Jennifer, your travel agent is wrong. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/02/21/how-far-in-advance-can-you-book-a-walt-disney-world-vacation/

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159 Leila { 05.20.13 at 1:17 am }

I have two questions. This is my eight year old daughter’s first time going to Disney World and I want to make this trip very special for her. I showed her pictures of the resorts and rooms, so she picked The Lion King family suite at The Art of Animation Resort. We are wanting to go in mid-November, because I was told it is less crowded and this is when Disney starts the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. I am planning on staying either four or five days at Disney World and need to know if I should book Sunday-Thursday, or Monday-Thursday? I noticed Friday cost more, so I am trying to avoid that day. Is Sunday a busy time in mid-November? The dates we want to go is November 10-14, or November 11-14. I am also going to buy the extra tickets to take her to the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and need to know which day is better to go that has less crowds, Monday (Nov. 11) or Thursday (Nov. 14)? I know Monday November 11th is Veterans Day, so I don’t know if more people will come to the party because of that.

160 Dave { 05.20.13 at 9:03 am }

Leila, that weekend is the end of Jersey Week, which likely will be extended because of Veterans Day (see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/05/02/jersey-week-at-walt-disney-world/ ) and a RunDisney event. SO I’d arrive the 11th or later. Disney caps the number of MVMCP tix it sells, so whihc night to go doesn’t matter a ton, but the 14th will likely be less crowded…

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161 Leila { 05.20.13 at 11:34 pm }

Thank you so much for the advice! Now I can book my package. I went to your Facebook page and read about the free dining pins. I will call in to see if I have since I am planning on going November 11-15th. :)

162 Dave { 05.21.13 at 8:14 am }

Good luck, Leila!!

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163 Becky { 05.25.13 at 10:45 pm }

Hi Dave. I thought I had made my decision (AoA Nemo family suite over Polynesian) for my family of 4’s 1st ever visit to DW (kids are girl, 11 and boy, 9, staying 9 nights). Now I think I’ve convinced my husband to go for a split between the 2 (and the kids are excited about both resorts; their original choice had been the Nemo suite). Would you recommend a split stay for our 1st (and possibly only) DW visit?

If we go for the split, with the summer discount and the way the pricing seasons work at the values, the best scenario for our budget would be to stay 5 nights at the Poly followed by 4 nights at the AoA family suite. The thing is, everything I’ve read says that we should do the value resort 1st, then the deluxe. Do you think we would be terribly disappointed to do it opposite conventional wisdom? Also, would you recommend spending more nights at one versus the other (obviously we’ll have to, just wondering which place we’d likely want to spend more time at)? And finally, our trip will run Tues. 7/30 through Th. 8/8, is any day of the week better than others for making a change in resorts (like, should we avoid Saturday as it’s a heavy travel day)? We will not have the dining plan (discount is on the room), and will be relying on disney transportation. Not opposed to renting a cab to make the switch–would you recommend that? Thank you so much for your help and all of the information on your site!!

164 Dave { 05.26.13 at 1:40 pm }

Hi Becky and thanks!

If you were in a standard value room, I’d argue strongly to start there.

But since you are in a family suite, starting either place would be fine!

Disney will move your bags for you, so the main thing to think about in picking your transfer day is where you’ll be between 11a and 3p–when you won’t have a room. Easiest is to do the move on a day when you plan to be in a park then anyway–that way you can take the bus to a park, and when done, take it a bus back to the second hotel.

Overall, you’ll find the family suite more livable and fun, and the Poly more interesting and comfortable (and expensive). I’d pick number of nights between the two mostly based on budget–whihc would put you at Art of Animation longer…also factor in your plans for MK–whihc is more fun to go to form the Polynesian…

Hope this helps!!

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165 Jennifer M { 06.07.13 at 11:05 am }

Hello Dave! I was just curious if you were going to be putting up a new review for All Star Music? We are staying there in March, and I would love to see some recent pics and hear more about it. Also, is there a coffee pot in the Family Suites?

166 Dave { 06.09.13 at 7:26 am }

Hi Jennifer! Yes, there is a coffee pot in the Family Suites. I will be putting up a new review of Music and standard rooms there in later June or early July, but not of the Family Suites.

However, there’s a review of them (with lots of photos!) from less than a year ago here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/09/05/review-the-family-suites-disneys-all-star-music-resort/

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167 Rhonda { 06.12.13 at 10:36 am }

Ok – another ? If the free dinning pkg is offered 12/6/2013/12/14/2013 I want to stay at Animal Kingdom – Can you please tell me which rooms and part of the trail to request for the Pool view bunk bed rooms – and are they really noisy and busy? Also the standard rooms can you tell me which part of the hotel to request the best room and location for both? Thanks

168 Rhonda { 06.12.13 at 10:40 am }

TRAVEL from the Animal Kingdom to Magic Kingdom – how long would you say the ride is to go to MK on the bus? I have before park opening buffet reservations at 8:20 and I heard the ride from AK is pretty long. Also how long is it from AK to Epcot? Ak to HS thanks you very much for your help!!!!!

169 Dave { 06.12.13 at 5:47 pm }

Hi Rhonda, you’ll be able to book a pool view bunk bed directly, so you don’t need anything else for that. This will put you away from the pool noise–whihc is OK anyway. At the time you reserve–and when you do online check in, which you can do beginning 60 days out–ask for a higher floor, closer to the main lobby.

For standard rooms, ask for the same thing, though for these roms, near the lobby is more important than the higher floor.

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170 Dave { 06.12.13 at 5:49 pm }

Um, Rhonda, why would you even do that? You’ll be wasting as much as an hour at the time that the parks are the least crowded…? (Walk from the meal to the buses, wait for the buses, bus time, walk into the next park and through the turnstiles…)

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171 rhonda { 06.12.13 at 9:04 pm }

Confused w/your answer :) Though, I believe my question was confusing. My question is how long is the bus ride from AK to MK? I do have 8:20 reservations for a character buffet at mk because I want to sign my son up for something at 9:00 – we are staying at this park the whole day, we will not be park hopping. My next question was how long are bus rides to each of the other parks. AK to Epcot? AK to HS. Thank you soo very much for your knowledge of the parks and answers so quickly.

172 rhonda { 06.12.13 at 9:09 pm }

As for my very first ? re: the rooms – I actually booked through a travel agent will I still be able to book online 60 days out? and what you are saying the pool w/bunk bed rooms are away from the noise? and the standard rooms are on higher floors?
Do you think there might be free dinning? I read in a different post from someone and you that you thought they might at least offer a discount…any more news on that for 12/6-12/14/13

173 Dave { 06.13.13 at 12:52 pm }

Rhonda, I think I get it now–you meant AKL, not AK, right? I thought you were talking about having breakfast in AK the park, and then taking a bus from there to MK!!

AKL is about a 15-20 minute ride from everything else except AK. But Disney runs special buses to early morning meals. Ask the AKL lobby concierge the day befroe about when it runs and where to get it!

Is this answer perhaps more heplful :)

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174 Dave { 06.13.13 at 12:56 pm }

Yes you can do on-line check in 60 days out. I suggest the higher floors for both room types because for the pool rooms there’ll be less noise, and the standard rooms will have better views.

If there is free dining in December–and I doubt there will be, but there’s a ton of speculation out there–it’s unlikely to cover your arrival dates, because of Pop Warner week, which is pretty much always excluded from such deals. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/05/30/pop-warner-week-at-walt-disney-world/

175 rhonda { 06.13.13 at 3:16 pm }

New at this Disney lingo :) You are pretty good at reading between the lines. I did mean AKL in all questions re: the rides. This was very helpful – thank you!!

So you don’t even think there might be a % off discount on these dates???

176 Dave { 06.13.13 at 7:38 pm }

:) I really should spell everything out and not use abbreviations. Yes I do think there’ll be a room rate deal for your dates, but it likely at AKL the Animal Kingdom Lodge will only cover standard view rooms…

177 Rachel { 06.14.13 at 11:47 am }

Thank you for your website, even a Disney semi-pro like me still finds great and extremely useful information here.

We are planning to travel with two kiddos – age 3 and almost 2 at the time of planned travel (first week of February). We picked the date due to the low crowds in the park. We took our first born to Disney when he was 6 months old and stayed in the Polynesian with him in January. Now that we’re looking to bring him and his younger brother, the Wilderness Lodge, we think, would be more ideal. We plan to spend more ‘down town’ with them at the resort.

We plan to continually visit DisneyWorld and our only reason to try Wilderness Lodge is it’s slightly cheaper than Polynesia, still a Deluxe Resort, and has more kid appeal/activities for my 3 year old than Polynesian would. We can also afford to stay an extra night at Wilderness due to the price.

My husband would still prefer the Polynesian due to it’s awesome location to the monorail and TTC. We plan to continually return to Disney with out kids as they grow older about every 1-2 years, so returning to the parks isn’t a big deal.

Are we better off staying in Polynesian with the little kiddos for this stay and eventually try out Wilderness when their out of strollers? Or choose Wilderness for the kids appeal and stay longer and book Polynesian when they are older?

178 Dave { 06.15.13 at 8:49 am }

You know Rachel, I’m actually a bit with your husband on this–rare, as my usual response to these debates is suggesting a skillet to the husband head.

I think the kids will appreciate Wilderness Lodge much more when they are older–say 5 and 6 or even older (my “kid appeal” rating are designed for kids 8 and older).

This is because the theming of WL is based on a pretty specific vernacular of national parks and the mountain west with which they may not yet have had enough visual experience to appreciate.

And BTW, if you are willing to consider “experiments in convenience”–what about a family suite at Art of Animation? See http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/06/10/review-the-family-suites-at-disneys-art-of-animation-resort/

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179 Rachel { 06.16.13 at 8:13 pm }

Dave – we talked about your idea and decided to try out a family suite at the Art of Animation. We can stay for an entire week at AofA for the price of 3 nights at Polynesian. After reading and looking at pictures of the WL, it will be way over our kids heads at this point. Thank you again!

180 Dave { 06.17.13 at 11:27 am }

Great, Rachel–even at almost $300 a night, you really get a lot in the Art of Animation family suites that you don’t get elsewhere…

181 Chris { 06.20.13 at 10:41 am }

I’m planning a trip to WDW 12/7/2013 – 12/14/2013. Flight is already purchased, no changing dates. I’m renting a car so travel convenience is not an issue. I have read your reviews of possibley no free dinning on these dates – BUT do you think room discounts will be offered AND WHEN DO YOU THINK THEY MIGHT BE OUT?
Looking at Caribbean Springs/preferred rooms as the standard rooms are already booked,
Wilderness Lodge standard room,
Looking at AKL standard room,
OKW cheapest rooms
I’m praying for discounted rooms as I do not want to be in the middle of POP WARNER teens in the value resorts. Thanks for your help……

182 chris { 06.20.13 at 8:12 pm }

I meant Caribbean Resort in the previous post, but we might do Coronado Springs if the price is right. NEED A DISCOUNT FOR MY DATES 12/7/2013 – 12/14/2013 – free dinning would be better. thank for your help….

183 Dave { 06.21.13 at 7:41 am }

Chris, my bet is that we’ll see room rate discounts for then–but I don’t know when they’ll come out. August at the earliest, but maybe later.

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184 Jackie Huepenbecker { 06.29.13 at 8:59 am }

My daughter and her husband and two children (will be almost 4 and 5-1/2 when we go), and sister are planning to go to Disney in February 2014. We are considering the Art of Animation Suite, but wondered if areobeds would fit in the room since there are only three different sleeping surfaces. Do you have a better suggestion for lodging?

Thanks.

185 Dave { 06.29.13 at 10:33 am }

Air Mattress in Art of Animation
Jackie, there’s room for a single-sized air mattress in front of the mini-kitchen. See the red thingy in the image. People in the fold-out couch will have to step over it to get to the bath…

There aren’t any inexpensive options that have 3 beds appropriate for adults. Any two bedroom villa would work, but the least expensive of those–at Old Key West–will be more than twice as expensive. For more on OKW, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/04/29/review-disneys-old-key-west-resort-2/

If budget is not an issue, then see this for more ideas: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/12/20/deluxe-options-for-large-families-at-walt-disney-world/

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186 M. Boggins { 07.09.13 at 3:26 pm }

Hello,
Where should I stay?
M.

187 Dave { 07.10.13 at 9:01 am }

Hey M–see the top of the page–the Polynesian or Art of Animation!

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188 Rachel { 07.10.13 at 9:44 am }

Hi Dave,
I have a standard room booked @ AoA for next August 16-23 2014. We are going with our two younger children (8 year old girl and 11 year old boy). My question for you is this…typically there is a discount available for these dates but standard rooms at AoA are not included. I am pondering changing my reservation and staying at Wilderness Lodge (I think our kids would LOVE it there), and this would be included in the discount, if they offer it and would only be about $500 more which is totally doable. This will most likely be our only visit for a long time so I want to make the best of it. What do you think?
Thanks!

189 M. Boggins { 07.10.13 at 2:02 pm }

Thanks Dave,
But, I wondered about the beach club as its in a good location, what do you think?
Your site is great, really helpful! :)
M.

190 Dave { 07.11.13 at 8:17 am }

Hi Rachel!

For sure Wilderness Lodge is a much better choice than a standard room at Art of Animation.

But I’m not following your pricing. In August 2014, Little Mermaid standard rooms will be $123/weeknights and $146 weekends. Wilderness Lodge rack rates then are $325/$347, and so even at a 30% discount will be more than $700 more expensive…

To me this is still way worth it…but it’s not my money!

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191 Dave { 07.11.13 at 8:21 am }

Hi, and thanks!!

The Beach Club has a wonderful location for Epcot, a good location for the Hollywood Studios, and a lousy location for the other two park. So if your trip is focused on Epcot, it’s a wonderful choice.

Most trips, though are focused on the Magic Kingdom, making other choices much better–e.g. the Polynesian, which is wonderful for MK, good for Epcot, and lousy for the other two parks.

For more on the Polynesian, see this http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/06/17/review-disneys-polynesian-resort-2/ and for more on the Beach Club, see this http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/10/11/review-disneys-beach-club-resort/

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192 Nickey Stamey { 08.02.13 at 3:52 pm }

Dave, So my husband and I are completely conflicted about where to stay for our March 2-8 2014 Disney Vacation. A couple of questions: If we did a split stay at Pop and Wilderness we are thinking about only doing a dining plan on half the stay and just paying out of pocket the other half. Is staying half the week at Wilderness Lodge worth the forfeit of convenience of having a dining plan for the whole week. Our son that will be coming along will be 5 yrs old at the time of travel. Also, what do you think a family of 3 would pay out of pocket for food for the week ? The Dining Plan for the whole week, even with the split stay is going to run us about $ 904.00. Do you think that is comparable to what we would pay any way out of pocket ? If we decide against the split stay we are very conflicted about whether to stay at Riverside or Coronado Springs. I want to for my son to still feel like he is at Disney even after we leave the parks. Help !!! We have contemplated this at neausium . Thanks!!!

193 Dave { 08.03.13 at 11:47 am }

Hi Nicky!

This is complicated. The dining plan no longer saves much, if any, money–and certainly not if, without it, you would not have done as many table service restaurants.

For a 5 year old boy, there’s certainly some great table service experiences to pursue–Chef Mickey’s, Hoop Dee Doo (two credits) and Crystal Palace, for example. Moreover, the dining plan itself doesn’t cover all your costs every day–you’ll pay out of pocket for tips and alcohol, and likely will average another half counter service a day out of [pocket too, especially if you grab a two-credit meal like Hoop Dee Doo. Plus at some points your son won’t want what’s on the kids menu, so will create a cash charge there.

So view the dining plan as a completely separate issue from where to stay.

Given that, I’d absolutely do the split stay! He will have a better experience…

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194 Elizabeth { 09.23.13 at 11:01 pm }

Hi Dave! Thank you for this wonderful site!! I’ve just spent the last 3+ hours reading it through. Really helpful and resourceful information, however, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed!! I’m a newbie with this family planning stuff and really don’t want to mess up what deserves to be awesome!!

We were thinking about visiting the 12/1/13 through 12/6/13. I had no idea I needed so much “planning” time! Should we hold off and wait to go next December instead? Will be going with my husband and my 2 awesome stepsons, 12 years old and 16 years old, and they have varied interests in art, music, adventures, and typical teenage boy things. Would you still recommend the Polynesian &/or Art of Animation, or a split stay at other places? Seeing that they are a bit older I don’t want to end up in the wrong place for the boys. This is our first big trip as a family as well as our first trip to Disney. We are hoping to spend 6 thousand or less all together, if that’s even possible (wondering if a meal plan would fit best for us)?? Any advice you could pass along I’d sure appreciate…Thanks so very much!!

195 Dave { 09.24.13 at 7:41 am }

Hi Elizabeth and thanks!

The main thing that will mess you up because of your “late” start :) is dining–but for kids that age, the dining character meals and dinner shows don’t matter that much. So you could stick wiht your visit this year.

Moreover, given their ages and interests, there may be better hotel choices–e.g. among the deluxes, the Wilderness and Animal Kingdom Lodges and among the Values All-Star Music. Links to reviews of all these are on this page.

Six thousand is do-able, especially if you stay at a value. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/what-to-budget/estimating-budgets/designing-your-walt-disney-world-vacation-to-a-lower-target-budget/

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196 Anonymous { 10.02.13 at 5:38 pm }

Hi Dave,

We are planning a family trip for mid-May 2014. We are bringing three kids who will be age 6, 4, and 1. Trying to decide between a standard view room at the Wilderness Lodge and a standard view garden wing room at the Contemporary. I think the majority of our time will be spent in the Magic Kingdom. What do you think is our best bet? thanks

197 Dave { 10.03.13 at 8:04 am }

That’s a tough call, but I’d go with the Contemporary. Rooms at WL are quite small, and I fear they will be cramped with the crib.

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198 BG { 10.21.13 at 10:19 am }

Hi Dave- Looking at booking our first trip to Disney between the time frame of Jan-March 2014. Family of 4 (2 adults, 2 kids, girls ages 6 and 3). When is the best time to go and what are your top 3 places to stay at? Budget friendly of course :). Also at these ages what are the parks we should focus on while there? Last thing. Is the dining plan worth it at these ages? They honestly eat like birds …whats the benefits of the dining plan? Thanks for all the help! :)

199 Dave { 10.22.13 at 7:40 am }

Hi BG–all your questions (plus some you didn’t ask) are adressed on the home page and it links–see http://yourfirstvisit.net/

200 Dawn Agent with Destinations In Florida Travel { 11.04.13 at 4:58 pm }

I love to stay at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge it is a Beautiful Resort close to the Magic Kingdom. Since it is not on the Monorail Line the price point is a little lower.. Water Taxi access to the Magic Kingdom. A great pool and fantastic restaurants. Especially Whispering Canyon Cafe..

201 Dave { 11.05.13 at 7:45 am }
202 Wendy { 11.20.13 at 2:22 am }

See – I am back already! We are staying at Wilderness Lodge and are not renting a car (other members thought it was not needed for them), so what time do we need to be at the boat dock on Sunday,Nov 24th to be at MK at rope drop (8AM) with your vast experience and analytical mind. We are thinking 6:30 – which is 3:30 for us! Yikes!

Thanks,

Wendy

203 Dave { 11.20.13 at 2:57 pm }

Wendy, check the night before at the concierge for boat start times. There’s two: WL-MK, and WL-FW-WL-Contemporary-WL etc.

Usually the MK boat doesn’t start running til 30 mins before opening. The boat to the Contemporary starts much earlier, typically 6.45 but I’m not sure how early it’ll be that morning. Assuming the MK boat starts at 7.30, I would be at the boat dock by 6.55 and take the first boat that shows up! If it takes you to the Contemporary, just walk to MK from there.

6.30 is TOO early…

204 Wendy { 11.20.13 at 8:49 pm }

You are wonderful! Thanks!

Wendy

205 Autumn { 12.28.13 at 5:42 pm }

Hi Dave and thanks a million for this incredible sight!!
I am looking to book (or at least price) a DVC villa for one of the 3 weeks following Thanksgiving 2014 (per your rec). The Disney site says every villa is unavailable on those dates. Am I missing something?? Also, if I book through, hypothetically, Southwest Vacations do you know if I will I still be able to add on the Magic Your Way/Dining Plan – or must I go directly through Disney to do that? We will be flying SW and might be able to save a bundle if so. Thanks again!!!

206 Dave { 12.29.13 at 8:01 am }

Hi Autumn, I just checked myself, and found availability at them all then…so either try again, or reserve/inquire over the phone.

Yes, you can get the dining plan with Southwest—see this: http://www.southwestvacations.com/disney/disney-dining-plan

207 Autumn { 12.30.13 at 3:03 pm }

Hmm…that’s strange. I’ll check again. Thanks so much for your response and this site!! I have learned a ton!

208 Dave { 12.31.13 at 6:51 am }

:) Autumn.

209 Kara { 02.12.14 at 12:40 pm }

Nice post on Disney properties! We wanted a separate bedroom from our living room for the napping kids so we chose Parc Soleil Hilton and it was amazingly nice and had a water slide at the pool! You can see the details where I blogged about our vacation! http://peekabootravel.com/blog/?p=91

210 Cindy { 02.20.14 at 9:42 am }

Is there a charge for parking at Art of Animation? I was looking on the WDW resort site and on the map of AoA, in the middle of the parking area there is a little symbol. When I hover my mouse over the symbol, a pop up appears that says “parking fees”…

211 Dave { 02.20.14 at 10:43 am }

There’s no charge for parking at the hotel, Cindy.

212 Keatha { 05.24.14 at 12:29 am }

Are there any kid friendly and appealing resorts that offer a king size bed as well as a sleeper sofa or other bed of any kind or size?

213 Dave { 05.25.14 at 8:33 am }
214 Troy { 05.31.14 at 11:56 am }

You left a word out on this page. Under “Stay at a Walt Disney World Resort,” “You should stay at an official Walt Disney World hotel resort, as doing SO…” You forgot the word “so.”

I know I’m crazy, but I caught it, and I figured you’d want to know. It’s a curse to notice things like this, Dave. :-)

215 Dave { 06.01.14 at 9:28 am }

Troy, thanks, fixed!!!

You have also reminded me that now that I’ve posted a set of new itineraries, I need to revise this page anyway…so that’s on my to-do list now.

216 Vanessa { 06.01.14 at 5:29 pm }

What are the best place to see and to eat too? I have 3 kids age 4,7&9.

217 Dave { 06.02.14 at 7:02 am }

Naessa, see what?

218 Wendy { 06.02.14 at 7:07 pm }

Curious as to what you’d recommend, Poly or Wilderness Lodge, for me and DH in September ’15. I know, thinking too far ahead, but my husband can’t walk long distances, so we’ll be renting an ECV for the duration of our stay, and the convenience of getting around with an ECV will be an issue, plus we have medical arrangements to consider. We’ll be staying 10 nights, but 3-4 days of that time will be “down time” as my DH will have to have dialysis treatments 3-4 times during our stay. I’ve been to WDW many times before, but not since 1984 when I left the travel business to become an attorney, but this will be the first time visit for my DH. I know, a LOT has changed in the ensuing 30 years since I’ve been there so it might as well be a first time visit for me, , but since we live in LA, we’ve been to Disneyland often. We’re thus not as interested in going on the rides or seeing the shows that are also available at Disneyland. We plan on 2 days each in MK and Epcot, and 1 day each in AK and Hollywood Studios.

BTW, your site is awesome – incredible amount of info; you obviously put a lot of time into it.

219 Dave { 06.03.14 at 7:04 am }

Hi Wendy and thanks!!

I’d go POly for two reasons:

1. WL rooms are cramped, and so while an EVC will work, it’ll fit better in a Poly room, and

2 ECVs work better on Poly’s monorail access to MK and EPcot (you’d want to take the monorail to TTC and transfer to Epcot monorail, rather than the path) than WL’s boats and buses. WL runs two styles of boats to MK, and you don’t know which is coming next. One one style, an ECV does not work because of a gunwale step; on the other, sometimes water levels won’t let ECVs on. ECVs do go on buses–which at both you’d use for AK and HS (at WL, you’d also use buses for Epcot, and, because of the boat issues, a lot for MK as well)–but it takes longer than rolling on the monorail for Epcot.

220 Tiffany { 07.30.14 at 9:29 am }

Hi

Deciding whether if worth it to spend $800 more to stay at Caribbean Beach (preferred room) over Pop Century (preferred room). Son will be 7 at time of visit.

thank you

221 Dave { 07.31.14 at 1:25 pm }

Hiya Tiffany! It is hard for me to make the call for another whether the value for money is there. For example, Pop rooms are tiny and have no coffeemaker–is that worth $800 to you? It isn’t to me… Take a look at the reviews of each, linked to from here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/04/26/walt-disney-world-resort-hotel-reviews/

222 Karen { 08.03.14 at 11:01 pm }

Hi,
We are planning our first WDW vacation in October 2015. We are a family of 5 with a 17yr old boy, 14 yr old girl, and 6 yr old girl. The resorts that are in our budget are not recommended for first timers yet we cannot afford what is. We are trying to decide between family suite at all star music or packing an air mattress to be used at port Orleans riverside or dvc rental wilderness lodge studio. Thoughts?

223 Dave { 08.05.14 at 8:59 am }

Hi Karen, the family suites will be most spacious and fun, Wilderness Lodge most kid appealing, and Riverside most cost effective. Note that there aren’t many WL studios, so they are hard to reserve, and that while I haven’t measured it yet–I plan to next week!!!–the fold-down bed in them is likely just 72 inches long

224 Christina { 08.21.14 at 10:16 pm }

Hi Dave!

We are leaving for Disney in 2 weeks! CANNOT wait!! I have two questions for you. We are staying at Pop Century. Have you ever know them to offer you an upgrade to a family suit at AOA from a regular room at Pop Century, or am I even crazy to imagine this? We just couldn’t swing the extra cost of the family suits, so we decided to book at Pop to take advantage of the free dining. We upgraded to the table service option. My question is would they even consider upgrading up to a family suit at AOA across the lake when we’ve booked a regular room at Pop? 2nd question, does every standard room come w/ a pak-n-play crib or do I need to call and request one? Thanks Dave!!

225 Dave { 08.22.14 at 11:44 am }

Christina, nope on the AofA upgrade…though it can’t hurt to ask!! And yes at the values you do need to call for a pack and play…

226 Katye { 10.30.14 at 9:31 am }

Hi Dave! We will be visiting disney for the 5th time February 28- march 4 my question is this out of carribean beach Saratoga Springs and Old key west which is the better? There are 2 adults and 5 children in the group. We always stay at Coranado and love it but wanted to try somewhere new . Thanks!!

227 Dave { 10.31.14 at 1:52 pm }

Katye, there’s really big differences between the three. Suggest you look at the reviews, all linked to from here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/04/26/walt-disney-world-resort-hotel-reviews/

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